SCIO briefing on securing a decisive victory in poverty alleviation

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China Education Television (CETV):

It is generally recognized that, to alleviate poverty, we need first to develop education, a major approach identified as of great significance in avoiding impoverishment passing from one generation to another. My question is: what additional roles should education assume when the anti-poverty campaign is being challenged at this most critical moment?

Liu Yongfu:

Poverty alleviation can be achieved by means of education, which enables an underprivileged population to gain access to a sea of knowledge and professional competences, signaling a farsighted and fundamental policy adopted to ensure poverty is not transmitted to coming generations. That is a consensus reached around the globe. To make the consensus adaptable to China's actual situation, we have taken a number of specific measures as follows:

First, the quality of nine-year compulsory education should be definitely guaranteed. All children reaching the age covered by compulsory education should be admitted to schooling and the pedagogic quality should continue to be improved. This must-do item is among a number of criteria for evaluating success in the work of poverty alleviation.

Second, the development of vocational training, higher education and preschool teaching must be stimulated. Policies are carried out for those who have failed in the entrance exams for senior middle schools or schools of higher education. Each of those students, who can receive an annual grant of at least 3,000 yuan (US$429.3), are enabled to continue their studies in professional training schools and graduate as professional technicians to fill the vacancies in urban and rural labor markets. This policy, which we have focused the most in recent years, has proved highly feasible. Meanwhile, we have encouraged institutes of higher education to target less developed regions by enlarging enrollment of local students, with hundreds of thousands of seats being made available each year. Before 2013, no student in many poor villages could be admitted to a university, but, now, that is no longer the case in a majority of the poverty-stricken areas. Meantime, pre-school education can serve as another example. To ensure the quality of compulsory education, the children, who do not speak standardized Chinese in some regions inhabited by ethnic groups, will study the language before entering primary school. By working with the Ministry of Education, we have launched a pilot program in Mt. Liangshan, Sichuan province, to teach local children, almost up to the age of normal schooling, to speak standardized Chinese. Notable progress has been made among roughly 300,000 local youngsters aged between four and six. Some of them who were admitted to schools last year have scored higher in tests. 

Third, education to nourish the development of thought is indispensable. Although to teach people with literacy and skills is inevitable, to cultivate the thoughts, including, hygienic and disease prevention awareness as well as diligent, hardworking and frugal spirits, are also instrumental, say, to the change of deep-seated wrong habits. That is why we should always take education an approach to eradicate poverty in the long run. Thank you.

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